Politics: The Big Mango


By Jeffrey Bradley

Pictures At An Exhibition, LED-style
Crowds are not company and faces are but portraits in a gallery.

About as much as Iran needs the bomb; about as relevant as Michael Moore.

Fort Hood terrorist Nidal Hasan killed 14 Americans one year ago today. America should pause to remember those killed and wounded in our on-going war with fundamentalist Mohammedism and the political correctness that still prevents the Department Of Defense from even using the words ‘radical Islam’—despite the fact the zealot shouted “Allah Akbar!” as he murdered people. We, on the other hand, have no problem calling it an outrage and a disgrace. Care to take a ‘fatwa’ out on us, Prophet (may peace be upon him)?

Man, we’ve seen a lot of developers come and go in the 3+ lustrums we’ve spent on Miami Beach. (Does that qualify us to say Miamuh like the old-timers? We’re practically a native.): Thomas Kramer (wanted to build a “gay hotel”), Quik-Buck “Hank” Sopher (wanted to be elected commissioner), David Dermer (wanted to be appointed commissioner), Don Peebles (who the hell knows what he wanted?) , even Henry Flagler, who invented South Florida, was up to his iron horse in development chicanery. (We’re only kidding about David Dermer; hizzoner actually led a fight against development yet presided over the biggest hi-rise boom the Beach ever witnessed. Oddly enough!) Throw in those hucksters who sold “prime” underwater acreage in the 60s, Al Capone, and that guy from Sham-Wow! and you got more weird characters running around than Catch-22.

Where’s Snowden when we need him?

Where were we? Yes, developers. The latest exemplar of nuttiness (and city-wide gullibility) is Marc Siffin, Mystery Man with the Latest Plan. He’s pining to put up a ten-acre shopping/parking garage complex across from the downtown Performing Arts Center. So what’s the big magilla, you ask? Just this. That garage will be adorned with two monstrous digital billboards some 40-stories high! If this grotesque garishness goes through next day we’ll be bright and early down at City Hall Miami to ask, please, to officially rename the “Magic City” the Big Mango.

Kinda catchy…

Siffin’s view comprises a revitalized downtown that “delivers a critical piece of the urban landscape”, which language usually finds us heading fast for the hills. But this time, we’re intrigued. Not by those twin towers of kitsch—were they arrived at during a Ten Tackiest Ever contest?—but in the thinking to justify the appalling

In a recent New Times article (“Blinded By the Light”), Siffin is held up as a wayward, LED-lined Picasso of dubious provenance. No harm there; most of us that live in The Back of Beyond have more than a rattling bone or two in the closet. But it does seem, somehow, that he’s never quite able to close the deal, that busted promises dog his every footstep, that someone, somewhere, is keeping bad faith. Elsewhere, that’s hardly a problem. But here, where any eccentric rainmaker with a bankroll can quickly command an army of gulls, these things are dangerous. Especially when the first mesmerized by that oily charm and made acolytes are policy-makers and VIPs.

So it seems in Miami. Commissioners there couldn’t wait to fall into line and start bending the rules and sign contracts. Whatever happened to we the people?

We don’t think this will fly. The background chorus boos louder with every step in the process. Besides, haven’t we been down this road before? Some developer appears out of nowhere selling visions of a  revamped landscape, then politicians sign on and money starts churning as ominously as water in the shark tank, with the endgame of hush-money and backroom deals and lobbyists hipdeep in corrumption. And who always gets caught holding the bag? Hint: not the developer.


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